If you are a smoker, there’s one sentence that you have probably read and conveniently ignored over a million times. ‘Smoking is injurious to health’ is one sentence that just doesn’t seem to convince you. The moment you read it, all your defense mechanisms and counter arguments build a wall before you. But in your defense, the word ‘injurious’ is indeed very vague and fails to bring out the seriousness of the issue. So, let’s dig deep into the word ‘injurious’ starting with some facts.
Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 4,80,000 deaths in a year.
Smoking causes about 90% of all lung cancer deaths.
Passive smoking kills more than 41000 people in a year.
Smoking causes more deaths each year compared to HIV, substance abuse, alcohol consumption, motor vehicle accidents and firearm incidents combined.
*There are more than 7000 chemicals in tobacco smoke out of which 250 chemicals are harmful and out of these 25 chemicals, 69 chemicals are responsible for cancer. *
Going deeper, let’s discuss the health hazards of smoking cigarettes:
Increased risk of cancer: Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of cancer because cigarette smoke is full of carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). Studies suggest that cigarettes are responsible for over 13 types of cancer like cancers of the mouth, pharynx (upper throat), nose and sinuses, larynx (voice box), oesophagus (gullet or food pipe), liver, pancreas, stomach, kidney, bowel, ovary, bladder, cervix, breast and leukemia.
Gum infection: If it’s difficult for you to imagine your life without cigarettes, try imagining your life without teeth. Smoking is majorly responsible for periodontitis- a gum infection that weakens/ destroys the bone structure that supports the teeth. It can lead to the loosening of the teeth and in some cases, it can make the teeth fall out.
Cardiovascular and heart diseases: Smoking damages the lining of the arteries and builds up the atheroma in the body narrowing the artery and increasing the chances of a stroke. Smoking considerably reduces the supply of oxygen to the heart, therefore, forcing the heart to pump harder to supply oxygen to the heart. Also, nicotine stimulates the body to produce adrenaline which forces the heart to beat faster, thus increasing your blood pressure.
Cravings and mood swings: Over time smokers develop a nicotine addiction and like any other addiction, the brain starts going haywire if it does not receive regular doses. This in turn, results in cravings, tremors, and horrible mood swings. One more cigarette might seem like the solution here but every cigarette entraps you in the vicious circle of addiction and ultimately, death.
Reduced sex drive: Smoking makes your sex drive go up in smoke. Nicotine alters the flow of blood and the levels of testosterone in the body which results in a diminished sex drive. In addition, research suggests that smokers are twice as likely to develop erectile dysfunction and infertility as compared to non-smokers.
Problems in the Reproductive system: Smoking cigarettes directly affect the reproductive system in all aspects. Women who smoke may have problems in conceiving, irregular menstrual cycles, miscarriage, increased risk of cancer of the cervix or vulva. Smoking also increases the risk of post-birth defects such as stillbirths, underdevelopment of the fetus, damaged cleft lip and cleft palate, etc.
Loss of vision: Cigarettes not only destroy your internal system but can also make you go blind. Research shows that smokers are four times more likely to go blind in old age because smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy and Dry Eye Syndrome.
Digestive system disorders: In addition to increased risk of cancer to many parts of the digestive system, smoking contributes to many common digestive disorders such as heartburns, gas- related problems, increased acidity, intestinal crampings, diarrhea, etc. The part where you crave a cigarette after a meal is where it all starts.
Smoking a cigarette might give you a temporary fix but in the long run, it will knock you down for good. Before it does, it’s time that you kick the habit once and for all.
Quitting smoking will take all you’ve got but the key is to not give up and remember that you’re not alone. Help is just an app away.